Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale
11,486 Ratings
Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.

37 IBU

Added by kbub6f on 07-05-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 11,486 |  Reviews: 3,054
Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

#6 in the all american spree.

I guess I was much so eager to try it that it was a bit disappointing.

Pours a clear, translucent orange with a medium head that fades and leaves some lacing and a thin coat atop the liquid.

The smell is very fruity and sharp with a good presence of hops in it. Very malty as well.

The taste, puh, very malty with lots of orange presence complimented with a back-of-the-throat bitterness, very strong. Perhaps a bit too sweet. Not very carbonated either.

An OK beer, made too much of it before trying it, but it's worth having more than once.

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Photo of TripelJ
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Now Quaffing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I am having a hard time stopping to type and start this review because I can't put this beer down. SN Pale Ale pours a nice deep hazy copper-gold with a nice thick, clumpy head. The aromas are clean and pure, a nice floral and hoppy (Cascade?) nose. The taste is what makes this beer stand out for me--an absolute redefinition of quaffable. The taste reflects the nose with a nice dose of hops, sweet malty middle, and some more hops in the slightly bitter finish. I wish I was more adept and describing my perception of this beer, but alas I will let it speak for itself. This is definitely my new 'session beer' and has a permanent home in my fridge (until I drink it and have to buy more of course). Much respect to the folks at Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of DarrellK
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been drinking this brew for years and it has maintained it's consistency over time. On draft or from a bottle it has a medium hue with a rich head and a good hoppy aroma. It is obviously very hoppy, so much so that it may scare aware some. To my taste it hits the spot any time of year.

Despite the hoppiness the finish is not overpowering but it does go better with stronger food. Once in a while this style will leave a bit of a soapy aftertaste and SNPA is not immune.

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Photo of Sixpack595
2.45/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Tastes like an overhopped macro. If your only complaint about Bud is the lack of hops, try this beer. If you like a full bodied beer with a strong malty backbone skip it. Very floral aroma, strong hop flavor, but not much else to it. American Pale Ales like this seem to much like a 1 trick pony. Try to back up that hop with some malt.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I originally sampled this beer on 28 March 2003. I am writing this review from my notes.
Clear amber colored, light flavor (by beer geek standards), this beer is a good stepping stone for people trying to get out of the BMC rut. In my opinion, SNPA will go down in annals of beer history as one of the leaders of the micro movement. These days, it is overshadowed by 'big beers', but every serious beer aficionado needs to try this one. It's still a very good example of an APA.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brownish golden in color with a slight haze. Off-white head.
Aroma dominated by the hops. Mix of citrus and floral with a bit of pine as well. Pale malt underneath the hops.

Taste follows the nose. Healthy dose of hop bitterness throughout. Hop flavor is a mix of floral, citrus, and pine notes. Good caramel-tasting, pale malt base underneath that falls a bit short of really balancing this one. Enjoyable flavor.

Good mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.

Overall, a good APA. It's relatively wide availability often makes it a welcome sight in an otherwise boring beer establishment.

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Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Nice, light orange body with an OK head.

Smell – Sensuous hops aroma consistant with the style and the very slightest hint of pine tells us that this one is serious.

Taste – It tastes like a lot of different hops in there. I get a little citrus, but not quite like an orange, and a lemon without the sourness (if that makes any sense). Some hops seem to have a strong floral taste, whereas others are a little bit more crisp. This is a hop-lover’s delight.

Mouthfeel – This feels great in the mouth. The carbonation is small, of course. The brew has a consistancy that just glides along the cheeks and gums. Nice job, SN.

Drinkability – This one has it all. It’s complex yet purposeful. There is an abundance of flavors in there, yet we know right away that it’s an American Pale Ale. In fact, this one would be a great reference taste for other pale ales.

Comments – I have been very impressed with the offerings from this brewery thus far (this is my fourth SN review).

Update – I first reviewed this beer the same month that I joined the site, so I thought it would be fun to revisit it with the 2004 vintage now that I have 1,000+ reviews under my belt.

This really is an understated but incredible Pale Ale. The nose is big on the hops and very complex, but the taste is expertly balanced. It’s everything good in a mild sort of way. I think this is the most often named beer when folks ask the perennial BA question in the forum, “What’s the best beer to introduce a macro drinker to craft beers.” I’m upping my Drinkability rating from 4.0 to 5.0 while bowing in the general direction of Chico, CA.

Update – I had a few bottles of 2006 and thought it was grainier since I last remember. It is a terrific beer but just seemed so ordinary this time around. It’s a definite 4.0 across the board at this point.

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Photo of Realale
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful full gold, with just a blush of copper. Fine sticky 1/2" head settles slowly to thin, complete cap.

Cascades! Grapefruit City. But there's a nice bit of piney freshness as well, and the underlaying biscuity malt base is not obliterated by the hops. A bit too much hop to be well-balanced, in my particular parlance, but nicely done, nonetheless.

Medium full in the mouth, with the malt slightly outweighing the good hop flavor on the palate. Great length from the hop bitterness, and the bottle-conditioned carbonation level is just right, lightening the body a bit, and scrubbing the hops from the palate in preparation for the next sip. Easy to down several of these. An old favorite, a classic of its style, and always a joy to see on an otherwise dismal beer list.

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Photo of SetarconeX
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've got to say, this one has a particularly pretty color. A bit darker than a lot of pale ales, but almost exactly where I'd like it. Head isn't huge, but a light lacing hangs around for a remarkably long time, adding even more to the visual appeal. Smells exactly the way it tastes, maly, hoppy, but neither particularly overdone. There's a reason why this one's so well regarded. Being tasty, and remarkably easily available for its quality, this is for me effectively the standard against which other pale ales must be measured. So easy to get, that when looking at other pale ales, the first question just has to be "how's it stack up against Sierra Nevada?"

In summary, a good, solid ale. Easy to get, so you can drink it without worries, and better than the vast majority of everything out there. If only everything you got at the local grocery store was this good....

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Photo of hungryghost
3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Medium, amber color. The head is white and does not last too long.
Hints of citrus, hops (floral), and spice in the aroma and taste. The beer is refreshing to the pallete, the hoppiness is pleasant and not overpowering. The word refreshing comes to mind.

This is my favorite 'standby' beer. It never fails to please with a meal or at a pub with friends. It is popular enough now that it can be found in most establishments, even if the beer list goes from Lite to Bud to Sierra.
As long as they have Sierra I can get by.

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Photo of Mustard
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Squat 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best by" date; $5.99/6 from Ralph's.

Appearance: Pours a clear, vibrant gold with a thick, foamy, 1+" head; sturdy, ring-like lacing; excellent head retention.

Aroma: Largely of piney, citrusy hops.

Taste: Faintly sweet, biscuit-like maltiness upfront; crisp, piney, grapefruit-like hop bitterness in the finish. Medium bodied with a somehwat chewy mouthfeel.

Notes: Stellar session APA.

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Photo of ngandhi
4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Fruitier out of the bottle. Maltier too. A rare occassion, indeed, but I like the bottle more than the tap. The tap's a little more astringent. Drinkability gets a 5 because this is an ideal session ale. A gorgeous beer. I buy it by the case.

It's not incredibly complex but the hops used here are delicious on the palette and nose -- evidence of intelligent, careful brewing. There are mild esters in the background but not unusually flowery like HopDevil. Bitter but not unpleasant. The hops here are a flavor, part-and-parcel of the beer, instead of some crazy quasi-adjunct that's there just to burn people's tongues off. There's even an influence of American pale lager in this beer on the nose, in a good way, -- somewhat Pilsnery. Clean, smooth body with a very controlled hop bite and medium malt. The flavors are delicately mellowed, but defined. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale isn't trying to prove anything. It drinks honest and pure.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of soilguy
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very good pale ale. The color is a straw-like orange with a white head that was dissapointingly short-lived. The layer of yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle assures you that this is indeed a bottle conditioned ale - a definite plus in my scorebook. A strong hop aroma is dominated by the classic citrusy scents of american hop varieties. The floral-citrus flavors in the beer are more subtle, but the hop bitterness is unmistakable. A thin mouthfeel is appropriate in this beer, and makes it more drinkable. A great summer thirst quencher.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It pours a dark gold, with a tan head and medium lace. The aroma was faint, mostly hops. The taste was HOPS- the typical SN Hops Madness. Somewhere underneath all the hops were faint malt and citrus peel notes. The mouthfeel was smooth, but not as oily as you might expect from all the HOPS! The finish, need I even mention it, was HOPS, of the bitter and tangy variety.

Maybe in another few years I'll be able to appreciate the Sierra Nevada over-the-top approach to hops, but right now? Nope...

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada pint glass. It pours a light copper color with two fingers of head. There is awesome head retention and good lacing. The smell fills the nose with pine and citrus. A very nice aroma. The taste has some fruity esters and a tiny bit of sweetness. This beer has a very good balance, perfect amount of hops for a pale. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, but just a little light. The drinkability is awesome, and this is a great session pale.

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Photo of kmo1030
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

rich amber with a dicipating white head. sweet smelling, slightly citrusy, and sweetwith a little spice, a little grassy hops in there too. excelent taste with plenty of hops bitterness and flavor, some sweet spicy caramel malts seem to be present at the end, i don't pick up much more than that. great balance of carbonation and body.

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Photo of oberon
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It had been awhile since I had drank this beer so I had a pint the other night,pours a hazy deep orange with a pretty nice sticky head.The aroma is definently zesty hoppy and a little piney.Taste to me might be a little over the top hopwise very citruisy and dry,pretty good beer but would like a little more balance to this beer.It is a hop head classic though.

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Photo of SteveP
4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am really pleased to get this - from what I understand this is the original American Pale Ale, a style which is making something of an impression over here in the UK, it's path having been laid by the popularity of the Golden Summer Ales which have a similar hop profile, though are softer and cleaner in the palate. The aroma is quite heavenly - delicate, floral and spicily citric, though that does die down after a while into something more grassy and rain like, even a touch metallic. When worked slightly the pale malt aroma does rise, but doesn't last long against the hops. The taste is surprisingly clean up front, but the sweet malt soon makes an appearance, slightly sticky but with a rounded body - a satisfying base from which the citric hops do their work, gradually taking over from the sweetness to emerge dark and tangy in the finish. A very pleasant beer.

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think this is, if nothing else, a standard to measure if Pale ales are poor, or, if they are elite. Drink When it's Hot, Drink it when it's cold. Drink the damn thing if it's 20 years old. It is a delight. Hoppy, but not overpowering. Sweet enough to make it that year round treat. Dry aftertaste indeed. But it has that pale ale citrus flavor that everyone loves. So drinkable, it is a shame more people do not love it. If it takes you more then a day to finish (given that you are one to finish a 6er in a day, extenouating circumstance not standing) you got some problems, cause even the "Bud-Light Boys" are down with this delight. Go, buy this and run to the hills and sign it's praises. You are dismissed

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Photo of lipschitz
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle with a quite brewing process write-up on the neckband.

Pours with a hazel hue, clear, with a smallish head that reduces to a nice sticky lace. Caramel aroma is surpassed by citrusy hops, with floral and herbal tones finding their way to your nose as well. The taste is earthy, with a moderate to low hop presence, and some peppery notes as well. The mouthfeel is appropriately carbonated & slightly coating, with hop oils relaxing on your pallet.
Notes: This is quite enjoyable. The hop levels are subdued for a pale ale, but perhaps this is closer to the intended style. It is apparently quite a popular beer, and I can see why – It can be equally embraced by the masses looking for a change, and beer geeks alike. Definitely piques my interest in American beers.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After getting home from my Saturday night softball league double-header, I opted for the SNPA over a Summerfest or a Stone IPA as the refresher of choice. Good pick!

Appearance: Poured a dark orange/amber with a creamy white head that refused to fade thanks to the ceaseless streams of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. Nice patchwork of lace left behind as the beer went down.

Smell: Citrusy/flora hops with a sweet malt aroma.

Taste: Starts off with a smooth sweet malt taste and citrus hops. Mellow, faintly piney bitterness builds slightly and leaves a soft lingering bitterness at the finish. Well balanced flavors of sweet and citrusy hops with hops only slightly dominating . Not crazy-hoppy.

Feel: Very clean and smooth. Not fizzy despite appearance of lots of carbonation.

Drinkability: This is a very easy-drinking beer, thanks to the nice balance of flavors and smooth, almost creamy feel. Perfect refresher after 3+ hours of softball on a warm summer evening. This one (and its pack-mate) disappeared quite quickly.

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Photo of taez555
4.52/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a creamy white 1/2" inch head with a very clear amber/orange body. A slight yeast/chill haze.

The nose was a beautiful and very inviting even citrus hop/sweet malt nose. The hop dominating a bit.

The taste was a very smooth bitterness, dominated by an up front citrus hop flavor. Did I mention lots of citrus flavor? Classic cascade hop taste. It's almost more an IPA than a basic Pale Ale.
The malts are also very well balanced in this beer. Sweet and smooth. Not as present as the hops, but complimenting them perfectly.
It finishes with a long lingering bitterness that mellows nicely.

Basically this is the beer by which all other American Pale Ales are judged. It's a work of art and holds up no matter how sophisticated you think your beer palate is.

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Photo of dmarch
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear golden in color with wa thin white head that leaves a nice lace. Ah, the aroma. We all know that wonderful cascade aroma from sierra nevada. The taste is not bitter at all, but rather well balanced with a malty sweetness and the citrusy hops. This is a standard for anybody who truly loves beer.

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Photo of BierReise
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great summer beer. Nice amber body with decent head and retention. Cascade hops all the way. This is the ale that gave me the ability to detect Cascade hops in beer. I've drank so many it's kind of programmed in my senses. Light enough flavor and body for the hot Summer weather.Perfect session beer as well and one of the most consistent brews I know of.

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Photo of alexgash
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love this beer. This was my gateway beer to the world of hoppy beers. Pours a beautiful copper color with a fragrant white head. Sweet malts and refreshing, spicy hops flow from the top. Ahhhh! Taste starts with nice toffee malt sweetness that gracefully gives into perfectly matched hops. Nice oily, sprucey-bitter finish. Amazing balance leads to perfect drinkability. I'd buy it by the case if there weren't so many other great beers to try!

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 11,486 ratings